In August 2017, the Supreme Court banned the practice of instant triple talaq. Meet Aafreen Rehman, one of the women who filed a petition against this practice after her husband divorced her via speed post.
In August 2014, Aafreen Rehman, an MBA graduate, got married to an Advocate in Indore whom she met through a matrimonial website. Initially, things were going well apart from a few small arguments. She didn’t think of them as something that would greatly affect their relationship. But, after a few months into the marriage, her in-laws began demanding dowry. The demand began with mental harassment and soon escalated to violence.
In October 2015, Aafreen and her mother met with an accident. While Aafreen was left with broken ribs, her mother died on the spot. She needed her husband by her side to take care of her, but he only visited her for 10 days before returning to Indore. Following this, he blocked her on all social media handles, stopped communicating with her, and soon divorced her by sending a written ‘Triple Talaq’ via speed post.
Outraged, Aafreen filed a petition in March 2016 to ban the Triple Talaq in India and got justice in August 2017.
In an inspirational interview with The Better India, Aafreen gives a detailed account of the painful journey, and how she managed to go through so much and stay strong.
“In August 2014, I got married through a matrimonial website to an advocate in Indore. Things were…
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“In August 2014, I got married through a matrimonial website to an advocate in Indore. Things were going well apart from a few small arguments which I didn’t really think of as something that would greatly affect our relationship.
In October 2015, my mom and I were travelling at night from Jaipur to Jodhpur on a bus when we met with a terrible accident. I lost my mother on the spot, and I got injured really badly. Seven-eight of my ribs were fractured due to the accident, and my husband came over for 10 days before returning to Indore.
I was staying at my cousin’s place and remember repeatedly asking my husband to come and take me home. I was not able to walk on my own, eat on my own or even sit on my own. I just wanted to go home; I needed my husband.
On November 7, out of the blue, he blocked me from all his social media handles. It shattered my mental health. I had already lost my dad in 2009, and now with the sudden loss of my mother, I had nobody by my side. I had counted on my husband being there for me. So the fact that he suddenly decided to disappear from my life, it left me heartbroken.
I tried communicating with him through multiple means, but there was no reply. I failed to understand what was happening and reached out to my mother-in-law to ask about when they were going to come and take me home. She kept giving me false hope saying ‘Beta, we will come in 4-5 days’.
All this while after the accident, I had nothing with me, neither clothes nor money. My husband left me in a T-shirt, a pyjama and a pair of slippers. I was all on my own.
This continued for over three months before I finally heard from my husband. On 27 January 2016, I received a speed post from him, saying he is giving ‘instant Triple Talaq’ to me. I remember feeling empty. It was that simple for him to give me a divorce. I was wondering how a piece of paper can dissolve a relationship as meaningful as a marriage.
I had nothing left to lose, so I started reading about Triple Talaq and came across instances where Triple Talaq happened over Facebook Messengers or WhatsApp. Outraged, I filed a petition in March 2016 to ban Triple Talaq in India. I barely had any money on me, so I gave my lawyer only Rs. 10,000 and fought with all I had. I also engaged in debates and discussions on news channels.
In August 2017, when the Supreme Court issued the revolutionary judgement banning Triple Talaq in India, I finally felt that all my struggle had been worth it. The SC also passed a judgement saying that there should be a law regarding this, and finally in 2019, the Muslim Marriage Women’s Protection Act was passed.
The journey has been harrowing, especially because I lost my family – my only brother also passed away in 2016. My friends were there by my side, and my cousin supported me during my media journey but overall, I was on my own.
When people ask me how did you make it through so much, I just tell them that tough times make you stronger and it comes from within. We tend to become dependent on others during tough times, but in the end, all you have is yourself.
One essential thing is hope. When I filed the petition against Triple Talaq, even though I was on my own, I carried with me a sense of hope that my efforts will yield results. Just like this, I became the second woman in India to file a petition against Triple Talaq after Shah Bano, who was the first woman to raise her voice against this issue in 1985.
Three other women followed me, and all our struggles have resulted in a change due to our faith in ourselves as well as the judicial system of India.
To all the women who are struggling and staying silent just because of the fear of ‘log kya kahenge’, don’t be afraid to raise your voice. Life always gives you the strength to fight against all that pulls you down.”
– Aafreen Rehman